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Online Safety

DO YOU KNOW HOW TO KEEP YOUR CHILD SAFE ONLINE?

 

Parents across Bedfordshire are being urged to wise up about online safety, as part of a new campaign which aims to protect children from online grooming.

 

The campaign, which launches today (Tuesday 31 May), will offer parents information on how to keep their child safe on the web, as well as advising them of the signs of online sexual exploitation and where they can turn to with concerns.

 

Parents are being encouraged to have a conversation with their children about the internet, to make sure that they’re aware of the dangers of sharing information with strangers and taking compromising images.

 

Detective Superintendent Nick Bellingham, of the Bedfordshire Police Public Protection Unit, said: “It’s important to recognise that child sexual exploitation (CSE) can happen online as well as in person, and that’s why we felt it was important to launch this campaign to help reduce the risk of that happening where possible.

 

“There are some basic steps that parents can take help keep their children safe online. Take some time to look at their security settings and make sure they’re set to friends only, and check that they are only speaking to people online that you both know and trust in real life. Most importantly of all, speak to your children openly and honestly about using the internet safely.”

 

Other advice includes explaining to your child that they should keep their personal information private and should only post content and photos that they wouldn’t mind sharing with their family.

 

The campaign will also highlight signs to look out for that a young person is being sexually exploited, such as a sudden or unexpected change in behaviour, or receiving unexplained gifts or money.

 

Cllr Shan Hunt, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Social Care at Bedford Borough Council said: “There is no greater responsibility than keeping young people safe and children accessing the internet can be effectively inviting a stranger into their homes, which is of course terrifying. By keeping parents informed on the topic of online grooming and asking them to be vigilant, we stand united in ensuring young people avoid becoming victims of this abhorrent crime.”

 

Cllr Steven Dixon, Executive Member for Education and Skills at Central Bedfordshire Council said: “As a parent myself I know just how important it is to keep children safe. Young people today grow up surrounded by technology and chatting with their friends or gaming online will be second nature to them. In contrast, trying to keep up with the amount of social media sites that young people use can be daunting for parents.”

 

Sally Rowe, Corporate Director People at Luton Borough Council said: “Today children and young people can access the internet easily through their phone, tablet or desktop computer and it’s increasingly difficult for parents to be aware of what they are doing online. As well as general websites and social media, young people are also among the highest users of apps and whilst they offer positive opportunities for communication with others, they can also make children vulnerable to people looking to take advantage of them.

 

“We hope that as a result of this campaign, parents feel empowered to talk to their child about being safe and sensible online, and that they understand how to help their child avoid any dangerous or unwanted situations.”

 

During the campaign, the organisations involved will be sharing advice on social media, as well as carrying out online safety sessions for parents across the county, and distributing leaflets and posters in key areas.

 

Parents and young people alike are also encouraged to visit the Bedfordshire Against CSE website for more information on both on and offline CSE as well as for advice on where to go if you have a concern about CSE.

 

You can also visit the Child Exploitation and Online Protection’s Think U Know website which offers tips and resources for people of all ages on how to stay safe in a digital world.

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